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Viscount Simon: I can understand my noble friend's response and, to a certain extent, I agree with it. However, I am trying to say that in a similar situation in all other statutes such an offence attracts the maximum fine. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clauses 12 to 15 agreed to.

Clause 16 [Interpretation of Part I]:

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 27:

""destruction" means making changes to a vehicle which prevent it from being used on the road in future;"

The noble Earl said: The Bill refers to the destruction of a vehicle. However, I believe that perhaps the destruction of a vehicle's identity is more important than the destruction of the vehicle itself. Members of the Committee may not be aware that in some cases vehicles stand in a vehicle salvage yard for many years while components are removed from them. Eventually, no salvageable parts are left. The body in the case of a car or van, and the chassis in the case of a lorry, is then sent away as scrap metal.

I believe that it is important to make provision in the Bill with regard to the destruction of the identity. I refer in principle to the vehicle identification marked on the chassis or the body; that is, the stamping of the vehicle identification number and, most importantly, the VIN plate riveted to the body. Of course, the number plate is irrelevant because, although it is useful for keeping records, it is easy to manufacture. We shall come to that point in later clauses.

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Can the Minister say how the Bill affects the destruction of the identity of a vehicle? In the Home Office consultation paper, that seemed to be an important issue. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Amendment No. 27 seeks to insert a definition of "destruction" in the interpretation section of Part 1. That relates to Clause 8, which empowers the Secretary of State to make regulations providing for notification by registered persons of the destruction of motor vehicles.

We consider "destruction" to be an ordinary term with a clear meaning. As such, it requires no further or additional definition. Defining it in the way that is proposed could cause confusion; for example, would removing the wheels of a car, perhaps taking off a wing mirror, removing hub caps or any such similar action fall within this definition? The amendment refers to changes which might make a vehicle unroadworthy in the future.

That definition will probably cause confusion--at first sight it could certainly do so. We do not want vehicles that are not literally destroyed to be notified to the DVLA. I begin to see the issue with which the noble Earl is concerned but the amendment does not come anywhere near grappling with it. The problem with which he is concerned and to which the amendment is directed is probably--I am speculating here--best dealt with in other ways. I shall think about the matter further. I do not think that the amendment's definition of "destruction" takes us towards a solution. I am grateful to the noble Earl for moving the amendment, which could touch on some important issues.

Lord Brougham and Vaux: The Minister is being kind this evening; this is a non-controversial Bill and we are trying to get it right. However, he referred to the removal of four wheels from a car. If that is not destruction, I do not know what is.

Earl Attlee: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. The term "destruction" has an obvious meaning. Although it might not be helpful to include that in the Bill, does the Minister accept that the destruction of a vehicle's identity is more important than the destruction of a vehicle? He seemed to be content about the possibility that a vehicle in a vehicle salvage yard with a complete identity could be bought by another person. It is important to remember that some vehicles have come to grief as a result of a vehicle accident and have been notified as a total write off. DVLA will have a record of that; we will know that it is a problem vehicle. Equally, however, although some vehicles have been written off, perhaps as a result of a fire, there is nothing in the DVLA's records confirming that. We need to be extremely careful and ensure that the identity of a written-off vehicle about which no records exist is destroyed at the earliest possible opportunity. Does the Minister accept the need to destroy the identity of a vehicle in a scrapyard at the earliest possible opportunity?

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: I certainly accept the noble Earl's point. However--I am trying to be helpful here--the amendment's definition of "destruction" does not grapple with the problem that he has identified. We can probably grapple with that problem in other ways. As I said earlier, I am grateful to the noble Earl for raising the matter. Clearly, there are difficulties in this regard. However, I do not think that the amendment solves the problem.

Earl Attlee: I have tabled quite a few amendments and I accept that this amendment does not precisely do what I had intended. I shall return to this matter--the destruction of a vehicle's identity--at a later stage of the Bill's passage through the House. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market moved Amendment No. 28:

    Page 8, line 26, leave out from "1(2)" to end of line 27.

The noble Baroness said: The amendment relates to the phrase, "motor salvage yard" and its interpretation in the Bill. The Bill specifically excludes any premises in which only parts of vehicles are kept. I am worried about that exclusion. The theft of cars in order to break them up into spares is not a significant contributor to vehicle crime, although it is significant with regard to the theft of motorcycles, because breakers buy parts from vehicles that have been stolen or because people buy whole stolen vehicles and break them up. That is not a theoretical problem. Only 14 per cent of the 25,000 motorcycles that are stolen each year are recovered, compared with 56 per cent of stolen cars. That graphically demonstrates the fact that the fate of most stolen powered two-wheelers is to be broken up.

I understand that the Government have specifically excluded spare parts because they have not consulted on that measure as part of the preliminaries to the Bill. On that, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cope, that the fact that something has not been specifically consulted on does not mean that we should not consider it here. That would be significantly infringing our rights as a House.

I should appreciate some clarification from the Government as to why they have made that exclusion. I beg to move.

Earl Attlee: The noble Baroness has raised an important point, although I am not sure that she has gone about it in the best possible way. It seems to me that the word "salvageable" is suspect. It may be more accurate to use the words "salvaged components" because "salvageable" components could cover a whole range of things with no intention, necessarily, to resell them. "Salvaged" could relate to a dealer who deals in recovered engines. I believe that the noble Baroness is barking up the right tree and I support the way that she is going but it may be better to use the word "salvaged".

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I was thinking that we might move towards "savaged" components! The

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effect of the definition of "motor salvage yard" as drafted is plainly to require motor salvage operators to register premises where they carry on their business and to give the police a right of access without a warrant.

Where a parts store is located in a different local authority area from the one where the motor salvage business is registered, the Bill does not require the motor salvage business to register the parts store and consequently pay a fee and the police have no right of access without a warrant.

We do not consider this amendment to be justified. The police already have the power to enter parts stores which are located in the same local authority area as the registered business by virtue of Clause 9(1)(b). If the police have concerns that a parts store in another local authority area where the business is not registered is being used as cover for dismantling vehicles, it is open to them to seek a warrant in the usual way to gain entry and make investigations.

The noble Baroness, Lady Scott, raised the issue of matters on which there had been no consultation and which were being brought forward for discussion at this stage of the Bill. Of course, we are all at liberty to raise and discuss those issues in your Lordships' House. But with this piece of legislation, we are trying to establish regulation by consent. Thus far, we have published our plans and consulted on them. If we start to bring forward extraneous measures on which we have not sought to establish consensus, we are in some difficulties. But that does not preclude us from discussing those issues. Therefore, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market: I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. I am rather disappointed and I am sure that my noble friend Lord Falkland will share that disappointment, as will his leather-clad friends, some of whom ride bicycles. I may return to this issue and I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, for his support. Although I fully accept that the Government have not consulted on this proposal, the motorcycle fraternity is very concerned and has made representations about it. I believe that those views should be taken into account.

We may return to this matter at a later stage and I should be very grateful for the help of those Members of the Committee on the Benches alongside me. But in the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.45 p.m.

Viscount Simon moved Amendment No. 29:

    Page 8, line 38, after "access;" insert--

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